The 20 Best Beaches in the World
Find out what the travel experts at HGTV consider to be the world's best, most beautiful beaches.
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With thousands of beautiful beaches around the world, choosing the top 20 is an almost Herculean task. After much consideration, the following beaches were chosen as standouts in their category. To achieve a well-rounded selection, you'll find iconic favorites, surf destinations, pink stretches, protected areas, isolated islands, sandbars and more. The common denominator? All 20 are bound to inspire your next vacation.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands is easily one of the most otherworldly. It's also one of the most protected thanks to its location in Whitsunday Islands National Park, home to the Great Barrier Reef.
Mile-long Sandbar, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
The Exuma Islands are known for their sandbars — long sandy stretches that extend into the ocean. But they're only accessible during low tide, such as the Mile-long Sandbar. It also goes by Big Farmer's Cay.
If you only come to France for Paris, you're missing out. The French Riviera is home to some of the best beaches on the planet, from Cannes (host of the famed film festival) to Saint-Tropez (think ultra-luxury). If you can only swing one beach day while in France, go to Nice. The beach itself is picture-perfect and the town has inspired painters for centuries, from Chagall to Matisse. Once an Italian city, you'll enjoy savoring some French-Italian lunch spots and boutiques in Nice.
Blue Lagoon, Tahiti
The Islands of Tahiti are comprised of 118 islands, so picking the best beach is akin to picking a favorite child. That said, those who visit the Blue Lagoon, about an hour-long boat ride north of Rangiroa, will find tiny deserted islands covered with pristine white sand.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
This 26-mile-long island off of the Yucatan Peninsula is often overlooked for nearby Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Hopefully that remains the case so that in-the-know visitors can enjoy Isla Holbox's pristine white shores in relative solitude.
Outer Hebrides, Scotland
In a surreal twist, white sand beaches abutted by clear turquoise water lie just off the coast of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides. Granted, don't expect the water to be warm like the tropics, but photos of ones like this just might fool your Instagram followers.
Gold Coast, Australia
This 35-mile stretch of white-sand beaches is world-renowned for premium surfing. Surf, watch the pros or take lessons at the iconic Surfers Paradise beach.
Long Beach, Cambodia
Most tourists fly into Phnom Penh, explore the bustling city, venture out to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat and return to Phnom Penh to fly out thinking they've checked Cambodia off the bucket list. But the country's beaches are its greatest treasure. Take a ferry from the mainland to Koh Rong island, and you won't be disappointed. Stunning tropical beaches, like Long Beach, have white sand, clear blue water and are virtually undeveloped.
La Digue, Seychelles
La Digue, a tiny inhabited island off the coast of East Africa, is known for its beaches, from the boulder-strewn Anse Source d'Argent to the secluded Anse Cocos.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Just south of Naples, this hilly coastline is peppered with picture-perfect sandy coves and trendy resort towns that attract tons of celebrities. The most famous towns are Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi.
Beaches are the main reason the majority of travelers make the long trek to the Maldives, and they don't disappoint. With about 200 inhabited islands and more than 100 resorts, the perfect beach awaits.
Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian is a foodie mecca, home to an incredible concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants. But beach fans will have plenty to engage them in this exciting European city too: city beach Playa de la Concha is also considered one of Europe's best.
Consider Lombok the quieter version of Bali, even though it's the next island over. That means fewer crowds on the same type of stellar beaches, like Selong Belanak Beach (pictured). Lombok is also home to a pink-sand beach, called, you guessed it — Pink Beach.
Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
Speaking of pink sand beaches, there are a finite number of them in the world, so naturally they're popular. You can find quite a few in Bermuda alone, the most famous of which is Horseshoe Bay Beach.
A former Portuguese colony, this popular Indian state boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. Agonda Beach in the south is more laid-back than some of Goa's northern beaches, and ideal for dolphin spotting.
Kauna'oa Beach, Hawaii
Located on the Island of Hawaii along the Kohala Coast, Kauna'oa Beach, or Mauna Kea, is a perfect stretch of white sand that's also free to the public.
Copacabana Beach, Brazil
Famed for its mega New Year's Eve party, this Rio de Janeiro beach is among the world's most iconic. The endless sand is framed by towering Sugarloaf Mountain.
Nosara, Costa Rica
As a yoga and surfing epicenter, Nosara is also beloved for its long, uncrowded beaches. Guiones Beach is especially embraced by surfers, but there's a beach for every style of visitor.
Sunset Beach, Koh Kradan, Thailand
Many of Thailand's beaches have suffered due to overtourism: Maya Bay in the Phi Phi Islands (featured in The Beach) is currently closed until 2021, and many more beaches in Phi Phi, along with Phuket and Koh Samui, are perennially packed. For the moment Koh Kraden offers the same level of stunning beaches, sans crowds.
Pakiri Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand's coastline is dotted with some of the world's most stunning beaches. But if you dream of horseback riding across white sand, target the secluded Pakiri Beach.